Major League Baseball abandons the strict interpretation of the transfer rule

19 Comments

Baseball’s new interpretation of the transfer rule — aggressively calling no-catches and no-putouts when a fielder drops the ball transferring it from his glove to his throwing hand — has caused no small amount of controversy. Plays that used to be considered catches or putouts aren’t anymore and people have gotten cranky about it.

Be cranky no more, folks: Major League Baseball has announced that, starting tonight, umpires will revert to the old, common-sense approach of determining whether a catch is a catch as opposed to the strict interpretation they’ve been employing. Now, as it always used to be, a catch, a force out or a tag will be considered legal if a fielder has control of the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after opening his glove to transfer the ball to his throwing hard. Under the new interpretation at the start of the season, players had to actually get the ball to the throwing hand. Here’s how Major League Baseball is defining the rule per its press release:

The Committee has determined that a legal catch has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Catch”), or a valid force out or tag has occurred pursuant to OBR 2.00 (Definition of Terms, “Tag”), if the fielder had complete control over the ball in his glove, but drops the ball after intentionally opening his glove to make the transfer to his throwing hand.  There is no requirement that the fielder successfully remove the ball from his glove in order for it be ruled a catch.  If the fielder drops the ball while attempting to remove it to make a throw, the Umpires should rule that the ball had been caught, provided that the fielder had secured it in his glove before attempting the transfer.  The Umpires will continue to use their judgment as to whether the fielder had complete control over the ball before the transfer.

The impulse for the now-defunct strict interpretation was an innocent one — we have replay now, and if you are going to review a handful of plays where the transfer rule comes into play, you have to have a bright line standard — but implementation was a problem. Kudos to Major League Baseball for doing something it hasn’t always done: admitting to a problem and fixing it on the fly, rather than waiting for the next offseason.

Astros star Jose Altuve has surgery on broken thumb, a WBC injury

Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

Houston Astros star Jose Altuve had surgery Wednesday on his broken right thumb, an injury that occurred in the World Baseball Classic and will significantly delay the second baseman’s 2023 debut.

The Astros announced that the 32-year-old Altuve had the procedure done in Houston and will stay there to begin his rehabilitation, with only one week left in spring training. The Astros will fly there on Sunday following their final Grapefruit League game in Florida, before playing a pair of exhibitions against their Triple-A team, the Sugar Land Space Cowboys, in Texas.

Altuve was hit by a pitch on Saturday while playing for Venezuela in the WBC. He might not be ready to return to the lineup until at least late May. The eight-time All-Star and 2017 American League MVP batted .300 with 103 runs, 28 homers and 18 steals for the World Series champion Astros last season. Mauricio Dubón and David Hensley are the leading candidates to fill in for Altuve at second base.

Altuve isn’t the only Major League Baseball star who was hurt in WBC play, of course. Mets closer Edwin Díaz will miss the 2023 season because of a torn patellar tendon in his right knee as the freak result of an on-field celebration following a WBC win by the Puerto Rico national team.

BROWN DOWN

The Astros also scratched right-hander Hunter Brown from his scheduled start Wednesday against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Florida.

Manager Dusty Baker told reporters that Brown, who is ranked by MLB as the organization’s top prospect and competing for the last spot in the rotation, has discomfort in his lower back.

NOT QUITE READY

The New York Mets sent catcher Francisco Álvarez to Triple-A Syracuse, quashing for now the possibility of putting the prized 21-year-old on the opening day roster.

Álvarez, who made his major league debut with the Mets near the end of last season, had just three hits in 28 at-bats in Grapefruit League exhibition games. Ranked by MLB as the third-best prospect in baseball, Álvarez batted .260 with 27 homers and 78 RBIs in a combined 112 minor league games in 2022 at Double-A and Triple-A.

The Mets have newcomer Omar Narváez, a 2021 All-Star with the Milwaukee Brewers, as their primary catcher with Tomás Nido likely to play mostly against left-handed pitchers.

Speaking of the Mets, Díaz turned 29 on Wednesday – a rather subdued milestone for the right-hander considering his situation. Diaz nonetheless posted in Spanish an upbeat message on his Twitter account, thanking God for another year of life and describing his health as good and his outlook as positive in this initial stage of the roughly eight-month rehabilitation process.